The Basics Of Raising Meat Rabbits On The Homestead: Part 1
( Mike’s Note: Rick of Rise and Shine Rabbitry was kind enough to write a guest blog about raising rabbits on a homestead. His passion and knowledge real shine through! You can check out more or Rick’s work on his blog Rise and Shine Rabbitry and also follow what he is doing on Facebook. This will be a 2 part blog. I’ll now turn it over to Rick.)
You may ask why meat rabbits? I will go over the basics for why I believe everyone should be raising meat rabbits on the homestead. I could go on forever about the benefits of raising rabbits for meat, but for quick easy convenience I will only list ten reasons why everyone should be raising rabbits.Then i will cover basic housing,feeding and breeding information.i will eventually get into writing more about each of these subjects in more detail, and will be writing a part 2 to this series answering any question you have on part 1 and processing your rabbits, tanning pelts and using the best fertilizer know to man rabbit manure!will be writing more on the goings on at the rabbitry! show you our hillbilly solar powered rabbitry setup off grid and more.Join The Rabbit Revolution !
1. Rabbit meat is very high in protein and very low in fat and cholesterol
2. You know were your meat comes from and the type of life the rabbit had, no medications or hormones just good tasting healthy meat
3. Rabbit are easy to raise! even working a full time job 2 does and 1 buck will only take a few minutes in the morning and evening and time on weekends to clean cages,even the youngsters can do the chores
4. Rabbits can be raised in country and suburban areas(could even be raised inside).They are quiet and clean no one will know you have your own meat supply
5. Rabbits have a high reproduction rate each doe should raise at LEAST 36 fryers a year(average 6 litters,6 fryers in each litter)and could produce even more by raising more breeding stock out of the best of your litters
6. Rabbits can be raised many different ways-colony raising,natural feeding,pasture raising ect. the rabbits will adapt and flourish with good management
7. Rabbit are easy to process takes only 15 minutes a rabbit from cage to freezer (or grill)Rabbit can be cooked many ways, any chicken recipe can be changed to use rabbit in place of chicken
8. Rabbits are very efficient-they will produce 6 pounds of meat on the same feed and water that a cow will produce 1 pound of meat.Your rabbits will be ready to butcher in 8 to 12 weeks with a 50%up to 65% dress out from live weight
9. Rabbits will grow well on food items that do not compete with food items grown for human food.Rabbits are a inexpensive way to supply good healthy meat for your family
10. Rabbits have other by-products good for the homestead.The best manure know to mankind,awesome pelts for blankets,hats, gloves and other crafts,ok that was 10 and i could list 50 more ,I could also write pages on just the added benefits of rabbits other than meat!
Housing For Rabbits
There are many different types of hutches or cage construction.The housing needed will depend on the climate,location and the amount of money you have available.It is not necessary to go to a big expense to build hutches.I have seen some of the best rabbits raised in hutches made from second hand lumber and some old wooden boxes.Hutches can be built outdoor or put in any shed or outbuilding in your backyard as long as they are in a dry draft free environment.You should construct hutches that will allow for easy feeding,watering,and cleaning.Clean cages mean clean rabbits!Most rabbit cages are made of wire,this provides easy cleaning and they last longer than cages made of other materials.The floor wire is usually 1/2″ x 1″ and sides and tops are 1″x2″ wire.This is what they use in most commercial rabbitries.The most common outdoor hutches are usually made of wood and wire,some with just a wooden frame with a wire cage hung inside.It is important to have protection from all predators even dogs and cats.Proper ventilation is a must when they are raised inside or out,but make sure the rabbits are not exposed to wet winds or drafts.Rabbits can withstand cold weather better than hot weather.Once your rabbits start to grow they will need to be separated make sure you have extra space available.Cage size for medium sized meat breeds are 24″Wx36″Lx18″H or 30″Wx36″Lx18″H for breeding cages,cages for buck or young replacement breeding stock can be housed in a 24″W x 24″L x 18″H or a 24″W x 30″L x18″H.Rabbits can be housed and raised many different ways as in a colony setting were multiple rabbits are bred and raised in pens or on pasture in rabbit tractors.It is up to you to decide how you want to raise your rabbits check out other breeders and how they raise their rabbits.
Photo Credit: mattshomes’
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